Victor Iis The Moral Compass For Walton

Walton’s relationship with Victor and the Frankenstein monster is subtly revealed beneath the surface plot of the novel. Three characters are closely related; they depend on each other. Walton represents a youthful thirst for knowledge in humans, while Victor is the moral guide that Walton can use to pursue his scientific goals.

Robert Walton’s appearances are limited to a couple of letters he writes to Margaret. Early on, in his first correspondence, we begin to understand that Walton is motivated to achieve fame by discovering magnetism and paving the road to the Pacific. He tells his sister that, because he has gone to such lengths to get to this point, he is entitled to a great discovery. Victor’s thirst to know is similar to that of the monster. Victor is “always hungry for new knowledge and discoveries” through his scientific research. Victor’s studies are further along than Walton’s, but Walton hasn’t been able fully to comprehend the results. Victor abandoned his monster to the cruel nature of the world, much like a parent who has neglected their child.

The monster made his discoveries as well, though they were more metaphysical and less scientific. In observing his neighbors, he is able to learn about their history and the language they speak. By observing their interactions, the boy learns about relationships and family. His observations from through the crack of the wall do not have the same effect on him as Walton’s or Victor’s discoveries. The monster is not as interested in discovering the unknown, but rather what’s right there. The information he receives is saddening and helps him to realize his position in the universe: he has no name, family, or close friends. In response to the question, “what am I?” he groans in pain and confusion. For him, the knowledge is a parasite that “clings” to his mind like a rock lichen. He was an ignorant animal who became saddened and intelligent.

The monster internalizes the lessons he’s learned, and then reflects back on them. He wants to become a better person by gaining some kind of humanity through his experiences. Victor, who initially believed that he was working to better mankind by researching a method to bring the dead back to life, abandons it before the fruit can fully develop. Both are unsuccessful in their efforts. Victor, in his attempt to improve society, does not realize the impact of each individual on that society. In an attempt to improve himself, The Monster destroys a group of people. Victor and the monster are on opposite ends of an spectrum when it comes down to learning and applying that knowledge. Walton, however, has made no progress and needs to choose between them in order to do anything good.

Walton’s shipmates are about to mutiny when he begins writing. He hasn’t yet discovered anything. In the midst of his quest to discover an idealistic “country filled with eternal light”, Walton’s ship freezes. The ice represents the barrier between the light and the knowledge. Walton was an interesting man to embark on his first exploration trip in search of a land surrounded by eternal darkness. Like he was never meant for success. Victor uses his figurative map to point towards the light, and he also manages it. But his stay there is brief. Victor is greeted by a “brilliant, wondrous light” when he learns how to bring life to inanimate objects.

The monster is able to see light through fire. The monster, unlike Victor, realizes the dangers of touching the flames. The monster recognizes that fires can be both beneficial and harmful, and adjusts accordingly. The monster is burned by a fire, but it serves as a metaphor for how some lessons can be both painful and harmful. Victor only grasped the fire and never actually held it. This is why he had no idea that it would burn. Victor did not consider the danger to the hands of those who would be affected by his flames. He created a monster with a small fire, but did not fan it or consider the potential damage that the flames could do.

Walton may not have seen the light that he wants, but he’ll get there eventually. Victor’s and the monster’s lessons are that, while it might seem harmless to walk on uncharted ground or find the source for the magnetic field of the North Pole, neither light can be too bright nor too dim. In order to find a solution that is beneficial for everyone, Victor’s path must fall somewhere between those chosen by the creator and the created.

Walton’s sister tells him that he “bitterly feels the want of a friend” on his voyage, and he finds what he was looking for: a fraternal bond, in Victor. Walton says to his sister that he is “bitterly feeling the need of a companion” on his journey, and finds it in Victor: a fraternal relationship. Victor also helps the monster who, after seeing how family works, is in search of love for a mate, not brotherly love. Victor has a lot of friends, so he doesn’t need one. Victor already had friends who Walton longed to be with, as did the monster. He did not have room for anything else, because he would not create a partner for the monster. And he could no longer remain by Walton’s sides. The monster, as if to even the scales out, kills Victor’s family. The monster brings Victor to the same level as himself by doing this. The monster makes them form a bond. Victor, driven to hate, becomes the creature he has created. Walton is warned by this. He is a monster, if he decides that the light he has found will harm someone or the whole society.

Victor warns Walton about the dangers of pursuing knowledge. Walton, as the personification of those who seek knowledge, should heed Victor’s warnings. A choice is always made in science about the use of a newly discovered technology or discovery. Scientists must be cautious because the “right” path is not always obvious at first. Walton and his colleagues are warned about the dangers of not exercising caution by the cases of the monster and Victor. Walton will be more cautious and likely achieve the scientific breakthrough he wants because of his relationship with Victor.


  • stanleybyrne

    Stanley Byrne is a 26-year-old education blogger and teacher. He has degrees in education and political science from the University of Notre Dame and has worked in various teaching and research positions since he graduated in 2014. He is the author of a number of educational blog posts and has written for Huffington Post, The Guardian, and Salon.